The amendment to the regulations governing fit notes has been laid before Parliament, to change the existing legislation on statements of fitness for work to expand the category of people who can sign them for the purposes of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and social security claims.
From 1 July 2022, the regulations will be amended to allow registered nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists to sign these statements. It is hoped that this change will make it easier for patients to see GPs by reducing their workloads.
In the meantime, when dealing with sick employees, I would encourage employers to continue to consider the following:
Entitlement to SSP and/or contractual sick pay, including having a clear sickness absence procedure and deciding whether qualifying conditions have been met as set out in the policy.
The reason for absence and whether it is genuine. This will entail ascertaining the medical position and may involve seeking a medical report in particular when dealing with prolonged absence.
Whether the incapacity has been caused by workplace factors such as stress, bullying or an accident at work, and what support may the employee require to help them return to work.
Whether the absence coincides with any periods of holiday and how this will be managed.
Whether the absence is related to a disability and whether any reasonable adjustments may need to be made.
Whether the employee may be eligible for permanent health insurance or ill-health retirement.
Whether dismissal is appropriate in cases of reoccurring or prolonged absence and, if so, ensuring a fair process is followed.
Pharmacists and some other healthcare professionals, rather than just GPs, will soon be able to sign people off sick from work, under new rules.